I may need to go back out on the big road soon. I've been local for close to ten years, but due to work shortage I may be out of here. My question is, has it changed much in the ten years I've been at home.
The biggest changes so far are the HOS rules. No more 8 hour breaks, 10 hour maximum driving, 15 hour restriction, or split sleeper berth flexibility.
Now we drive up to 11 hours within a 14 work window. We must shut down for at least 10 consecutive hours between off duty time and sleeper berth. The "split sleeper" has been reworked so the ONLY way to use it is with 8 hours in the sleeper and an additional 2 hours of off duty/sleeper either before or after the 8.
Other changes are; now we are required to write out a VIR (vehicle inspection report) after each day of driving and that time must be recorded as "on duty not driving." It used to be we would do a "pre-trip inspection" at the start of our day and a "post-trip" or walk around inspection at the end of the day. Thanks to the ltl lobbyists we now have the same rules as the union company drivers that slip seat and go home each day while the truck is used for another shift.
Other changes are strict anti-idling regulations with increased enforcement from police. Especially in California, New York and New Jersey.
More companies are reducing the maximum governed speed for trucks due to the high cost of diesel.
The other thing that has changed that comes to mind is the new security clearance procedures for hazmat carriers, port workers and drivers that cross the border. Crossing the border will soon require an official passport while the federal government wants to do a back ground check on you before you will be permitted to pull a hazmat load.
Many truckstops have gone out of business including Unocal76. That was bought out by TA. Williams Travel Centers were purchased by Pilot and the truckstop at exit 133 off of I95 in Fredericksburg Va was closed down to make room for a Target Shopping center.
There are some good things that have come to pass though. Satellite radio allows coast to coast reception of your favorite radio programming. Air cards for your laptop computer allows you to get online from anywhere in the country without a "hotspot" (provided you have a cell tower in range). Trucks are bigger and stronger, many with apu's installed to help keep the driver comfortable. Most big companies now have satellite tracking, dispatching, and routing. There is also gps units for sale that will route you from dock to dock with voice instructions.
Ezpass and prepass make the job much easier as well through automated deduction of tolls from a pre-established credit card account and pre-pass allows trucks to bypass scales without entering (provided the carriers profile is in good standing and the scale in the highway shows you to be legal on your axle weights.
I have nothing much to add other than there seems to be a lot more trainees on the highways than ten years ago.
At the rate we're going, an "experienced driver" will only be found in the Smithsonian.
Companies still churning drivers and whining about a "driver shortage" (that they created with their sleazy business practices).
I forgot to mention the optional 34 hour reset for the hos. This permits a driver to "reset" his 60/7 day or 70/8 day clock.
Hands free headsets are also fairly new. Many states have passed laws prohibiting the use of hand held cell phones due to accident statistics. Be sure to invest in 1 when you get back on the road.
Many truckstops are now "travel centers" and have reduced or eliminated sit down restaraunts. Instead we have many fast food choices such as Subway, McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Arby's, Taco Bell, etc. Some places such as Flying J's have kept the restaraunts but have reduced their operational hours to save money. No more 24 hours a day full service restaraunts at some of the J's.
Park-n-view (the system that allowed drivers to watch cable tv and have phone and internet service) went bankrupt.
Idle-air came up with a similar concept but added heating and cooling to their plan. After mmay years of expansion, building their scaffolding and support columns (taking away truck parking spaces in the process) they too have filed for bankruptcy. Their system of nose in parking was the first error, their pricing structure was their second, their lack of maintenace was their 3rd. Many non smoking drivers complained of canned air that reeked of cigarette smoke.
IdleAire went bankrupt but was bought cheap at auction . The system could survive with proper management . IdleAire went bankrupt because they were spending far more on expansion than they were taking in . Buying cheap and not expanding could yield a profit .